The Strength of the Characters in A Raisin in the Sun
In A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry paints an impressive group portrait of the Youngers, a family composed of powerful characters who are yet in many ways typical in their dreams and frustrations. There is Lena, or Mama, the widowed mother; her daughter Beneatha, a medical student; Beneatha’s brother Walter, a struggling chauffeur; and Walter’s wife, Ruth, and their young son. Crammed together in an airless apartment, the family dreams of better days.
The character Beneatha knows much about her African past. Mama is very proud of her African heritage and believing it’s importance. During the stage directing of the play Lena has the “noble bearings of the women of the heroes of the Southwest Africa , but she totally ignores her African past and does not care much about it either” (Cheney 59). Asagai Beneatha’s acquaintance talks allot about his African past and believes deeply in his culture and heritage. He is from Nigeria where there is a lot of poverty.
A Raisin in the Sun is a quiet celebration of the black
family the importance of African roots, the equality of
women, the vulnerability of marriage, the true value of
money, the survival of the individual and the nature of
mans dreams (Cheney 55).
Africa is a great part of the play because it brings out good and humorous elements in the Younger family, such as Walter yelling out “Hot Damn!” “Flaming Spear!” as Beneatha walks out in her Nigerian robes (Cheney 60). Africa becomes a symbol of heritage and a troublesome but hopeful future (Cheney 56).
With the help of Paul Robeson, W.E.B Dubois and Frederick Douglass she created the play A Raisin in the Sun. Paul Robeson was a famous baritone singer. He inspired her to write A Raisin in the Sun. She loved his voice and the songs he sang. Hansberry learned from him “…the way that most blacks lived, and the dangers of being an artist” (Cheney 45-46). W.E.B Dubois was an original thinker and a sociologist. Hansberry “…gained admiration for black intellectual, socialism, and black leadership” (Cheney 40). Frederick Douglass was a another writer. Hansberry learned about slavery and its psychology. She also learned a “…invaluable lesson that the sufferings of a people may be presented truthfully in ways that rise above propaganda to the level of art” (Cheney 36-37).